Eight learners from the community of Chesterville were the excited guests of honour today at a special ceremony at Suncoast Casino & Entertainment World (SUNCOAST), acknowledging them as recipients of school and tertiary bursaries sponsored by the gaming and leisure giant.
The bursary project is an extension of SUNCOAST’s CSI partnership with Chesterville public benefit organisation, Vukukhanye Community Upliftment Initiatives (Vukukhanye), which seeks to intervene at the social, environmental and law enforcement levels within the community of Chesterville.
Suncoast’s executive director Mike Dowsley said the casino complex’s partnership with Vukukhanye had commenced at the beginning of 2009 and had included financial support and the investment of time and effort by SUNCOAST’s staff.
“We have been humbled and privileged to have assisted in some small way in improving the quality of life for the community of Chesterville. The introduction of the bursary sponsorship is especially exciting for us as it adds a new dimension to any of our previous CSI commitments and we look forward to seeing the impact of the support for a long time to come,” he said.
During the 2009/10 financial year, SUNCOAST worked closely with Vukukhanye to identify eight deserving recipients from grades 1, 5, 8 and 12 at schools in the Chesterville area.
Funding was allocated for fees, uniforms, stationery and other education related expenses.
The eight learners are: Nompilo Hlatswayo and Siphosethu Ngciki, both grade 2 learners at uKhanya Kwelange Primary School, Siphiwe Memela and Thembikosi Mdunge, grade 6 learners at Christopher Nxumalo Primary School, Slindile Nyerende and Thabiso Ngcobo, grade 9 learners at Chesterville Secondary, and Thobeka Radebe and Tsepo Mchunu, two grade 12 learners now embarking on tertiary studies through UNISA.
While most of the learners come from disadvantaged families, a number of them boast strong academic and sports backgrounds. They will receive ongoing mentorship, extra lessons, psychosocial assistance and career guidance as part of the bursary offering.
There are now plans afoot to extend the offer to four additional Chesterville learners each year.
Suncoast’s Community Upliftment Project (CUP) actively involves Suncoast staff in the company’s CSI activities. Their hands-on support includes monthly trips to provide assistance at Vukukhanye, including mentorship, homework assistance and maintenance of school buildings, sports grounds and other facilities.
In addition, sports equipment and gear has been donated to the ‘Sport For All’ project, with 100 children being enrolled to take part in this after-school sports project.
Vukukhanye was formed in 2001 in response to the serious threat to child and family welfare caused by the HIV/ Aids epidemic in Chesterville and Cato Manor.
The organisation’s activities cover a wide range of areas including feeding schemes, the establishment of the Zamokuhle and Bamba Izandla creches, adult literacy training, skills training and income generation projects, a rape crisis centre, a disabled people’s support group and HIV/Aids education and care via the Chesterville Satellite Hospice.
“Our focus is on the holistic development of the community of Chesterville,” says Vukukhanye’s chief executive officer Anthony van der Meulen. “Areas of strategic activity include orphans and vulnerable children, early childhood development, youth and adult education, development and community safety and HIV/Aids.”